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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a term from electoral geography designating a particular way of arranging election districts in the USA. Gerrymandering violates the principle of equal representation, which demands that an equal number of voters be represented by an equal number of representatives. By gerrymandering election districts, the governing party creates districts with an unequal number of voters in order to concentrate the votes of the opposition party in one or at most several districts and thus to obtain an advantage in other districts. Gerrymandering also violates the territorial principle by creating oddly shaped districts.

The term “gerrymandering” arose in 1812, when a cartoonist drew such a district in Massachusetts in the shape of a salamander, and the newspaper editor called the drawing a gerrymander, after E. Gerry, the governor of the state at that time.

Although laws passed in the USA in 1842, 1872, and 1902 demand the creation of compact election districts, gerrymandering still continues.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.